Recently, my friends and family have started asking me for advice about general life issues. Health, fitness, nutrition and the like. And I get REALLY excited! I’m all…
“Check this webpage out.”
“Try this essential oil.”
“See a chiropractor.”
“Change your diet.”
My mom just called me to inquire about dermatitis remedies for a friend of hers. I suddenly became Dr. Oz and Sherlock Holmes all at once. Researching, offering advice. It was kind of fun, actually; it reminded me of why I am in my line of work. It is exciting to bring Western medical practices to the alternative healing modalities I have tried.
I am by no means an expert. I simply know what I have tried and how it has worked for me. I know what I have read. I try to find legitimate and credible information before trying something new. I am making many life changes to be more chemical-free and promote preventative treatment for illness, but I am still a nurse. I want the evidence.
So let’s talk oil-pulling!
It is all the new craze! Right?? You know you are all dying to try it J I just tried my 3rd session this morning.
WHAT IS IT?
Oil-pulling is an old Ayurvedic practice. It comes from traditional Indian healing methods originating 3000-5000 years ago. Oil-pulling is just one of many practices that treat a variety of health ailments. Tradition teaches that oil-pulling not only improves oral health, but systemic ailments such as headaches, diabetes, asthma, GI issues and inflammatory issues.
Medical research only supports its use for oral health, but more about that later.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
- Perform oil-pulling first thing in the morning before eating or brushing your teeth. You can also do it before meals.
- Put 1-2 Tablespoon of oil in your mouth. Traditionally, sesame oil was used. Some research encourages olive or sunflower oil as well, but personally, I love coconut oil. It just tastes yummy to me and bonus: it is naturally antibacterial. (Yay!)
- Swish the oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Don’t swallow it. I found that the first time I could only do it for 5 minutes because my jaw got tired and my mouth felt funny. But after just 2 tries, I was able to swish for a full 20 minutes today!
- When your time is up, spit the oil into the trashcan. It is full of bacteria, so this is the best place for it.
- Rinse your mouth well with warm water.
- Brush your teeth!
I find that after this practice, my mouth feels clean and moisturized. I love the immediate feeling.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
As I stated previously, the only benefit supported by medical research is that of oral health.
- Oil-pulling demonstrates a significant decrease in halitosis (bad breath) as well as the bacteria that causes it. It was shown to be just as effective as chlorhexidine (found in over-the-counter medication Biotene as well as the prescription drug Peridex).
- These medications are often used to treat halitosis and gingivitis. The bad news: they can cause staining of the teeth, change in taste, toothaches and oral irritation. So, if oil-pulling is shown to be just as effective, why not avoid the chemicals altogether? AND there are much less side-effects.
- Oil-pulling shows a decrease in overall oral bacteria (in one study a whopping 20% reduction after 40 days of the practice). This may be promising for the future in preventing/treating dental caries. Bacteria are showing resistance to current antibiotics, but have shown susceptibility to sesame oil, specifically.
- Oil-pulling is just as effective as chlorhexidine at reducing plaque and plaque-induced gingivitis in adolescents.
In some cases, brushing is contra-indicated such as when a person is vomiting, has mouth ulcers, asthma or a cough. Oil used for pulling is less harsh on the mouth and may be a great option in these cases. Of course, it can be done daily as a preventative measure as well.
What ignites controversy is if oil-pulling provides health benefits beyond the oral cavity. Some research claims that this oil therapy can be both preventative and curative for the entire body, as the tongue is connected to many organs such as the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestine, stomach, colon and spine.
While no medical trials currently support this statement, the idea does seem probable to me. A study found in Clinical Microbiology Reviews (2000) supports this process. This study was conducted to determine how an oral infection can affect diseases such as diabetes mellitus, low birth weight, bacterial pneumonia and cardiovascular disease. Anatomically, bacteria in the oral cavity have easy access to the human bloodstream, giving it a passageway to other body systems.
For me this all makes sense. It is supported by the fact that my mother is required to take prophylactic antibiotics anytime she visits the dentist. She has an auto-immune disease and a heart murmur. She gets her teeth deep-cleaned twice a year, per recommendation of her cardiologist as a way to prevent infection from spreading from her oral cavity to other areas of her body, specifically her heart.
Does it not stand to reason, based on this evidence, that if oil-pulling cleans up bacteria in our mouths it also prevents the spread of bacteria to other body systems? It gives me enough reason to keep trying it!
Purohit, B & Singh, A. (2011). Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. J Ayurveda Integrative Medicine. 2(2): 64-68. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/
Asokan, S., Chamundeswari, R., & Emmadi, P. (2009). Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian Journal of Dental Research. 20(1): 47-51.
Durai Anand, T., Gopinath, R.M., Kayalvizhi, B., & Pothiraj, C. (2008). Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries. African Journal of Microbiology Research. 2: 063-066. Retrieved from http://www.academicjournals.org/ajmr
Asoakn, S., Emmadi, P., Rahuraman, R., Saravana, K., & Sivakumar, N. (2011). Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of the Indian Society of PEdodontics and Preventive Dentistry. 29(2): 90-94.
Kolltveit, K.M., Li, X., Olsen, I., & Tronstad, L. (2000). Systemic diseases caused by oral infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 13(4): 547-558. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88948/
Microsoft Word – Anand et al Pdf.doc